In 2005 I was in Deer Creek, Colorado for a week-long Systems Engineering Training Class. Usually, when I travel for work for a few days, I’d locate a local YMCA so I can train. So, while I was in town, I worked out at the Littleton YMCA. Littleton might sound familiar. In 1999 two troubled teenagers killed 13 students and wounded many others at Columbine High School in Littleton.
I worked out for 3 or 4 evenings at the Littleton YMCA, after my training class. Littleton is the upper-middle-class community; consequently, their YMCA was comfortably upscale. I like working out at YMCA like my home Y in Westchester CA, because of the energy and vibrancy of its young people.
A lot of the kids at the Y were from Columbine High School. I watched them play basketball, in between my workout sessions. I asked one of the kids where the weight room was in the facility. He was very polite and accommodating. The kids were happy. They had such decency, as did their parents there.
So what happened in Columbine? What went awry? No one will ever know. Bad can occur anywhere, amidst the finest people. Perhaps those teens who killed fellow students slipped under everyone’s social radar? Maybe, we weren’t listening, not paying close enough attention? I really don’t know. No one does.
It’s now 2018. There have been at least 270 school shootings since Columbine. Recently, tragic shootings occurred at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 students were killed, and many others wounded. However, that was not the last either. There have been several other school shootings with loss of life since Parkland. Sadly, these occurrences have become part of our cultural landscape.
I did not make the Downtown Los Angeles March to protest the Government’s complacency in this expanding tragedy. My bad. I worked out that morning. I knew many friends who participated.
That morning a friend inquired about the march. I said that the March acknowledged the 17 students killed in Parkland. She questioned the purpose of those students marching. She said, “They don’t know how the world works.” I thought, “WTF?” Well, I didn’t respond as such.
I said, “They’re protesting because 17 kids were killed when they shouldn’t have. And old people like us have done nothing to change this.” So much for knowing “how the world works” from the old folks who supposedly know better.
Parkland is this generation’s Cultural Revolution, their Cultural Evolution. Perhaps, if the kids don’t know “how the world works,” that’s their blessing.
More importantly, these 16- and 17-year-old high school students know how the world needs to work. Something is indeed broken. Their idealism and courage call this out and ask those in power, “What are you going to do?”
Young people deserve to learn in that safe space, free to be. Regardless, of all possible viable solutions, young people just want this to stop. They constructively take action in moving this conversation forward to us responsible adults.
In a recent national poll, over 60% of the US population favors some sort of gun control legislation. I won’t delve into the politics of this, because there’s little or no agreement in that realm. However, I’m inspired by the 16-year-old who just wants to be able to go to school and not be worried about being shot.
That poll also empirically demonstrates that our elected Government does not represent our core values. Truly WTF. Our Government Representatives seem more beholding to lobbyists and special interests than those like us who voted for them. Oh well, so much for knowing how the world really works.
Young people actually know how the world works. And they see that it sucks. Unlike many in my generation, instead of complaining about the status quo, they actually take up the cause. They are in action. Their wonder and idealism inspire.
This inspired generation of teens wants the world that works for everyone, where everyone pursues their greater selves without living in the shadow of violence. That’s the world we can all get underneath.
Most complex problems rarely if at all have unique solutions. Rather we consider and look at the series of optimal possibilities; all for the greater good. That is the long road ahead of all of us.
These brave young people call for us to get off our collective asses, and look and resolve this grave tragedy. It’s not going to be easy. Yet, we must all do our best because lives depend upon us to make the killing just stop.
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Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue
Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 21, 2018
2018-02-21 This is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License. Give attribution to: Fibonacci Blue